European Champions Cup: Wasps can bounce back against Bath

Wasps director of rugby Dai Young
Dai Young's Wasps were hammered at Leinster last week

Simon Mail previews the second weekend of the Champions Cup which features Wasps v Bath and Castres v Exeter...

"Wasps have been hindered by a growing injury list but Dai Young's side still have the quality to claim a first win to revive their hopes of progress in Europe."

Leicester v Scarlets
Friday, 19:45
Live on BT Sport 2

Tigers can edge to home win

Two teams desperately in need of a victory clash at Welford Road this weekend with Leicester and the Scarlets searching for their first win in this season's competition. The Tigers were beaten 24-10 in Ulster while the Scarlets suffered an agonising 14-13 home defeat to Racing 92 after conceding a late penalty try.

It leaves both sides with little in the way of wriggle room if they are to challenge for a quarter-final spot in the Champions Cup. Ulster reached the semi-finals last season but have a wretched record at Leicester where they have lost on all four visits and could fall to another defeat. The hosts have won their last two Premiership games by no more than eight points and are backed to edge this contest in another tight match.

Munster should be too strong for Gloucester

Munster v Gloucester
Saturday, 13:00
Live on BT Sport 2 and Channel 4

Munster have a tremendous pedigree in this competition and started this year's campaign with an excellent 10-10 draw at Exeter which ended their opponents' winning start to the season. Despite being depleted, Munster held their own and have given themselves a strong chance of progress. Gloucester got off the mark although were unconvincing at times during their scrappy 19-14 win over Castres at Kingsholm.

It is difficult to look past Munster in this fixture at Thomond Park with the home fans likely to spur them on to another victory. Munster have won all their home games this season and in some style with 36 points their smallest margin of success. Gloucester could be overwhelmed by the atmosphere and the hosts are fancied to cover a 15-point handicap.

Chiefs can clinch another memorable win in France

Castres v Exeter
Saturday, 13:00
Live on BT Sport 3

Exeter have given themselves plenty of work to do to qualify after failing to defeat Munster in last week's opener. Rob Baxter's side remain unbeaten this season though having won all six of their Premiership games. Top 14 champions Castres' struggles away from home continued after a narrow defeat at Gloucester in their first match.

The Chiefs will have to do it the hard way after being held at Sandy Park but a win in France is certainly possible. Exeter pulled off a superb 27-24 win in Montpellier in last season's competition and another memorable victory could be on the cards. Castres lost at home to Stade Francais in their last home game and Exeter are backed to sneak a vital win by no more than 12 points.

Wasps can get back on track

Wasps v Bath
Saturday, 15:15
Live on BT Sport 2

This weekend's all Premiership affair takes on increased importance for the teams after both were beaten in their Champions Cup opener. Wasps suffered a chastening evening after champions Leinster thrashed them 52-3 - a record European defeat. Bath also endured misery after Freddie Burns celebrated prematurely and missed out on a try in their 22-20 home defeat to Toulouse.

Wasps have been hindered by a growing injury list but Dai Young's side still have the quality to claim a first win to revive their hopes of progress in Europe. Bath may still be reeling after squandering a glorious opportunity to win against Toulouse and the hosts could have the edge at the Ricoh Arena. Wasps defeated Bath 31-26 in their most recent meeting in December and a similar scoreline could be on the cards this weekend.

Saracens should breeze to home win

Saracens v Lyon
Saturday, 17:30
Live on BT Sport 2

It has been business as usual for Premiership champions Saracens this season with Mark McCall's side winning all seven games in all competitions. Their gritty 13-3 victory at Glasgow last weekend has set themselves up nicely for another strong European challenge. Lyon were beaten 30-21 at home to Cardiff Blues in their opening game last week.

Saracens have not lost since their defeat to eventual champions Leinster in April's quarter-final. It has been a majestic run from the team and the hosts are overwhelming favourites for this weekend's game. Sarries are given a handicap of 24 points to cover but a better bet could be to back them to win by 21 to 30 points. All three of their home matches this season have seen them win by this margin.

Falcons could struggle to avoid defeat

Newcastle v Montpellier
Sunday, 13:00
Live on BT Sport 2

Newcastle pulled off a remarkable 26-25 victory at three-time champions Toulon on Sunday. It was a stunning result for Dean Richards' side with the Premiership's bottom side upsetting the odds. Newcastle exposed the deficiencies in Toulon's game and thoroughly deserved their win but it could be tougher this weekend against a Montpellier side which won 21-15 against Edinburgh in their opener.

Montpellier have built momentum in recent weeks with four successive victories and will be confident of qualifying for the last-eight after their start to the competition. Newcastle could find it difficult to back up their brilliant win in France and have lost all three of their home matches this season. Montpellier's last three wins have all been by no more than 12 points and the Top 14 side can extend this sequence with a tight victory at Kingston Park.

Follow Simon's bets on Twitter @watfordtipster

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